Transparency International has published the Corruption Perception Index 2019 and Bangladesh has scored 26 out of 100. As long as Bangladesh cannot secure a number more than 30, the perception of Bangladesh being a heavily corrupted country will not change.
But why are we not able to score higher? The fault lies in our system.
We are greedy in nature and the current system does not allow a person to remain honest, even if he wants to. For example, if someone wants to solve land related issues, there is no way they can solve the issue without spending money or without showing power in the sub-registry offices.
I always say that our political system is corrupt. The motifs of many of our MPs are to make as much profit as they can by getting elected.
If you want to become a member of the parliament (MP), no matter how honest you are, you will have to spend money to become elected. Although the Election Commission allows one candidate to spend Tk25 lakh for election purposes, the actual expenditure is much higher in reality. And, if we think deeply, it is also difficult to spend Tk25 lakh for an honest person.
Thus, the most MPs we get are businessmen, as they are the only ones to have such amount of money. And, as they are businessmen by profession, their tendency to make profit continues.
Additionally, we also have a tendency to convert power into money. For this reason we see corruption in different government offices as the officers misuse the power bestowed upon them to make money.
Apart from these, the other reason in my opinion, lies in our legal system. In our legal system, people do not get punished very often for corruption and the process is very lengthy.
While in charge of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), I felt that the ACC is a "toothless tiger" and my perception has not changed yet. No matter how many people are arrested or investigated for corruption, their cases get stuck in a never-ending process after entering judicial proceedings.
Additionally, our society does not think of corruption as a bad deed. Many of our politicians are highly corrupt, but it has not yet occurred that these people have not been re-elected for their corruption. This has happened just because of the attitude of our society. And as long as the perception of the society does not change, we cannot stop corruption.
Bangladesh has been perceived as a corrupt nation for a long time – an image that is not easy to get rid of. If we can improve our governance system and increase our per capita income to more than $3,000 to $4,000, corruption might come down.
Furthermore, as I have said from time to time, if we can punish 100-200 heavily corrupted persons every year and expose them to the society, corruption might reduce. But without fulfilling such criteria, there is no way for us to get a higher score in the Corruption Perception Index.
Ghulam Rahman is former ACC Chairman.